Last week I was again reminded of ICE’s autonomy and esoteric logic. I was thrilled to learn that my client’s criminal attorney had successfully reduced her 16-month sentence to 364 days, thus eliminating the aggravated felony that barred her from our ideal affirmative relief. With this knowledge, I informed our judge’s clerk that we would be submitting an alternative application for relief for which she became eligible. For this we agreed to keep the same previously-set deadlines and hearing date. That night, my client was instructed to pack up her things in custody. It was not until morning that she learned that she was being released, which I learned also after a frantic 7am call from her brother. She was in fact taken to the courthouse and processed through BI, the contractors for the Intensive Supervised Appearance Program and released within 24 hours of my phone call. We received no explanation or warning, but count our blessings. Our best guess is that the judge requested the release from ICE custody based on her brother’s continuous appearances in his US Navy uniform at her hearings.
Having several other clients in ICE custody for long stretches, I wanted to enroll them in the same program. Not knowing where to make such a request, I sought the advice of other attorneys. I contacted my client’s deportation officer, who instructed me to submit a form request in writing with supporting documentation to make the argument. My research has indicated that there are still arguments about whether ISAP is considered “custody” under ICE and therefore is still considered a part of mandatory detention. For now, I presume it is not considered “custody” but the San Francisco Field Office will consider requests for release. Outcome is still TDB.